Coffee With Carrie Blog

Christmas Time Nature Studies

img_1410.jpgThis is the perfect time of the year to be outdoors and to do some Christmas and winter nature studies.  No matter the weather, take some time to enjoy the rain puddles, the snow flurries, the misty mountains, the night skies, and the glistening sunshine.  Doing a few nature studies is a great way to sneak in some “school” while taking a much-needed break during the month of December.  There is nothing like fresh air and God’s creation to help us slow down and re-center our focus this holiday season.

At this time of the year and during the winter season, there are so many things to observe that you normally don’t get to see at other times of the year.

poinsettia wild.jpgPlay “I Spy a Poinsettia.”  When on a walk, try to spot poinsettia plants growing in the wild.  You will probably see tons in pots on porches but if you live in CA, TX, LA, FL, HI, and other areas of the southern states,  there is a very good chance you can spot one growing in the wild or in someone’s yard.  Get up close and notice the pattern of the leaves.  Draw it.  Did you know the flowers of a poinsettia are actually not what we love to look at during Christmas time.  The red “flowers” are actually the leaves of the plant and the flowers are the cute little yellow blossoms in the center.  For added fun, read the Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola.

christmas tree wildObserve and learn about evergreen trees as you go Christmas tree hunting.  If you use an artificial tree, no worries.  Go to a local tree lot or Christmas tree farm.  I am almost positive no matter where you live, you can find a variety of fir, spruce, and pine trees in your area.  When you find one, create a bark rubbing of the tree trunk.  Every species of evergreens have a unique bark pattern and texture.  Observe a cluster of pine needles or evergreen branches.  Bring a cluster home and place them in a plastic bottle filled with water.  It will enhance and magnify the needles.  Draw them.  Did you know evergreen trees have needles for leaves to conserve water.  Deciduous trees have broader leaves to collect sunlight for photosynthesis but water also evaporates from the large surface area of the leaves.   Evergreen leaves are needles to conserve water.  For fun, read The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown.

pinecones.jpgGo on a pinecone hunt.  Try to collect as many different shapes and sizes as you can.  Are the pinecones closed or open?  Get up close and notice the pattern in the pinecone.  Draw it.  Research why some cones are closed and what makes them open up.  Did you know pinecones are nature’s way of preserving the seeds of future conifers?  Pinecones only open when the temperature is just right for seed-planting.  If the air is too cold, the cone will stay closed to make sure it doesn’t drop its seeds onto frozen or frosty soil.  However if the weather is warmer, the cone will open and drop its seeds for spring planting.  While forest fires are dangerous, the heat from the devasting fires will open dormant pinecones thus creating future saplings to take the place of trees that were destroyed in the fire.  For fun, read The Pinecone Walk by Barbara Springfield.

winter birdsDo a little bird watching.  Sit in your backyard or go to a local park.  Observe the different birds that visit the trees and shrubs.  Take a picture of them so you can draw them when you get home.  Are the feathered friends native to the area or are they probably visitors migrating during the winter? Depending on where you live, winter is the perfect time to learn about birds. Check out North American Birds Unit Study by Rebecca Spooner @ #homeschoolon.  It is a perfect Charlotte Mason inspired unit to use in January when you are trying to get back into the swing of school. For fun, read the heartwarming story The Christmas Bird by Elizabeth Howell.

mistletoeNext time you are under a sprig of mistletoe, take it down and observe it.  Draw its leaves (and white berries if they are still attached).  Research the tradition of mistletoe and the fact that Mistletoe is actually a parasite.  Oddly, one of the main reasons mistletoe is so prominent during the Christmas season is because it feeds on deciduous trees.  When these trees shed their leaves in the fall, the mistletoe snuggled in between the branches become visible.  For fun, read the cute little story The Legend of Mistletoe and the Christmas Kittens by Joe Troiano.

animal-tracks-snow-wmkyDOTorg.jpgIf you live near snow, make sure you go on a nature walk during or after a snowfall.  Bring a magnifying glass and a pair of binoculars.  After you create a few snow angels and build a snowman, check out the snow up close.  Notice the little crystals.  Pick something covered in snow to draw.   The area may seem empty but it isn’t.  Sit quietly and use your binoculars to spot animals in the tree, birds in the air, and critters poking up out of the snow.  It is also fun to look for tracks in the snow.  You will be amazed at the different prints you can find.  Check out Our Journey for some great nature study units.  The Nature Explorers:  Snow and Ice and No Sweat Nature Study:  Math in Nature are perfect for this time of the year.  For fun, read the classic picture book Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.

Don’t forget to go outside at night and check out that night sky.  During the winter, you can spot constellations you don’t normally see.  Draw the night sky and the moon.  Learn about the different constellations and the uniqueness of the Star of Bethlehem.  For fun, read Herald: The Story of the Christmas Star by Kathy Born.

nature centerpiecesFinally, collect items along the way:  acorns, leaves, pinecones, winter fruits and berries, branches, etc.  Use them to make beautiful centerpieces around the house and to make unique Christmas gifts for family and friends.  It is a great way to bring God’s beautiful creation indoors so even on cold, rainy days, your children have something beautiful to observe and draw.

IMG_1409Check out our post on IG @coffeewithcarrieconsultant ,  “Decorating Your Outside Trees for Christmas” .   It is full of great ideas on how to invite neighborhood critters and animals to your backyard by decorating your backyard trees with cranberry trim, birdseed ornaments, and organic treats.



Merry Christmas and Happy Hunting,


**For other Nature Study posts, check out “Textbook & Stress-free Science” article and “Nature Studies at the Beach” article.

We hope you can join us for our 3rd Annual Special Weekend for Homeschooling Moms March 27th and 28th, 2020.  In our Friday session, How to Homeschool High School, several of our panel participants will share how they used nature studies as a way to meet their science high school requirements.  At our last session, The Ten Essentials of Homeschooling, Carrie will share how to use God’s creation as one of your ten essentials. CLICK HERE for info on the event.

CLICK HERE to register. 

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Christmas Around the World

!Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noël! Buon Natale! Mele Kalikimaka! God Jul!  Shnorhavor Amanor yev Surb Tznund (Շնորհավոր Ամանոր և Սուրբ Ծնունդ)!  Merry Christmas!

buon-natale.jpgIt is officially the holiday season!  We have less than 25 days until Christmas.  This means our house will be teeming with excitement, the smells of gingerbread and tons of family activities.  The hustle and bustle of December also makes it harder to complete lessons and stay on task.  Math and writing lessons get pushed to the bottom of the “we will get to it tomorrow” pile.

Unfortunately, homeschooling moms like myself also carry a twinge of guilt in December as Christmas gets closer and closer and less and less schoolwork gets accomplished.  Being a Type A person, December always brings a different kind of stress for me.  Our family never seems to have enough time to get our school work completed.  There are so many fun fieldtrips to go on, so many friends and family in town to visit, so many cookies to bake and so many presents to make and wrap.   And this year, my eldest graduates college and turns 21 in December!  There will be lots of celebrating and little school work being done.

christmasbreakOne year, God reminded me of the main reason we homeschool:  the freedom and flexibility to learn about Jesus as a family! One year out of desperation, we decided to take off the entire month of December.  Yes, the entire month!  I know, traditional schools maybe get two weeks of vacation, but we decided our family would take some much needed time off and spend our time making memories and spreading some Christmas cheer.  However being Type A, I felt guilty about not doing “school” for a whole month.  So I turned our Christmas traditions and holiday errands into part of our “school day.”

christmas-in-mexicoSome of my favorite holiday “school work” were the years we learned about how other countries around the world celebrate Christmas.  Since “Coffee with Carrie” blog spent the first few months of the 2019-2020 school year sharing how to “travel” the world in 80 Books, we decided to extend the “travel” theme to Christmas time too!

king cake 2In our Christmas “travels,” some years we learned how other countries and cultures celebrate Christmas.  Some years we focused on the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the season of Advent and then learned about Kwanzaa and Epiphany after Christmas.  Since I am from New Orleans, we always incorporated Epiphany and Kings Day into our Christmas “lessons.”    After all, Mardi Gras season starts on Epiphany or King’s Day.  On Epiphany, we eat King Cakeread the story of the Wise Men, and talk about the cute plastic baby Jesus hidden inside the cake.  


christmas around worldThe first resource you will want to get if you are going to learn about how Christmas is celebrated around the world is  Christmas Around the World by Lankford.  It not only comes with short descriptions of how different countries celebrate Christmas and birth of Jesus, but it also gives cooking and craft ideas too.  We even used some of the ideas to make Christmas presents for family and friends.  Another great resource to use is Celebrate Christmas Around the World.  

Start the Christmas season off by celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 6th. Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop who helped the needy. After his death, the legend of his gift-giving grew. Saint Nicholas was born in Patara, Lycia, an area that is part of present-day Turkey. He reportedly used his inheritance to help the poor and sick. A devout Christian, he later served as bishop of Myra.  There are many legends about Saint Nicholas.  One story tells how he helped three poor sisters. Their father did not have enough money to pay their dowries and thought of selling them into servitude. Three times, Saint Nicholas secretly went to their house at night and put a bag of money inside. The Dutch continue to celebrate the feast day of Saint Nicholas on December 6. It is a common practice for children to put out their shoes the night before. In the morning, they discover the gifts left by Saint Nicholas. Dutch immigrants brought the legend of Saint Nicholas, known to them as Sint Nikolaas or by his nickname, Sinterklaas, to America in the 1700s.  Our family loved putting out our shoes out on the eve of Dec. 6th.  The kids would wake up to chocolate gold coins in a brand new pair of shoes.  As the kids reached puberty, they grew out of their shoes faster than they could adequately use them, so in the spirit of St. Nicholas, we donated presents and some of our slightly used shoes  (and a few new pairs) to a local community center in our town.  The presents and shoes were then given to needy families in our area.

In Mexico, Christians celebrate Los Posadas.  With your family this holiday season, learn about Los Posadas and even attend one if you can.  We live in Southern California so visiting Olvera Street during the holiday season was always a treat!

In Egypt, Coptic Christians make up only a minority, around 10 percent of the population, but they have longstanding Christmas traditions, such as the Feast of the Nativity. The Coptic Christians also observe the month of “Kiahk,” starting from Nov. 25 through Jan. 6, where they fast and eat a vegan diet.  On January 6th, they celebrate Christmas with a liturgical service, which is then followed by a fellowship meal where they break their fast and continue to rejoice in the birth and incarnation of Jesus.  While our family never fasted during Advent, the season leading up to Christmas Day, we do host a feast on Christmas Eve for our family.

Live-NativityItaly is where the tradition of nativity scenes or creches originated.  The Nativity scene is said to have originated with Saint Francis of Assisi in 1223 when he constructed a nativity scene in a cave in the town of Greccio and held Christmas Eve mass and a nativity pageant there. Greccio reenacts this event each year.  We made our own clay and wooden figures nativity scene, which I still put on the mantlepiece every year.  

AJ5905, Vermont, VT, New England. Image shot 2000. Exact date unknown.Some Church historians state that the tradition of the Christmas Tree, also known as Tannenbaum, began in Germany. German and Dutch immigrants also brought their traditions of trees and presents to the New World in the early 1800s.  The evergreen Christmas tree is a symbol of everlasting life and in some cultures also represents the Tree of Life, which is why many ornaments are apples.  Germany is also known for the tradition of all things gingerbread.   One of our favorite traditions to this day is decorating our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and then making a gingerbread house the first week of Advent.  Celebrate with your fellow Germans by making homemade ornaments for your Christmas tree and then bake and decorate a homemade gingerbread house.

yule-log-cake.jpgIn France, the land of good food and fabulous chefs, one Christmas celebration is to bake and eat 13 different desserts! All the desserts are made from different types of fruit, nuts, and pastries.  The Yule Log (the literal tree and the chocolate version) originated in France as well. In Provence, it is traditional that the whole family help cut the log down and that a little bit of it is burnt each night. If any of the log is left after the Twelfth Night, it is kept safe in the house until the next Christmas to protect against lightning!  A Chocolate Yule Log or ‘bûche de Noël’ is  a popular Christmas dessert or pudding. It’s traditionally eaten in France and Belgium.  The Yule Log is made of a chocolate sponge cake roll layered with cream. The outside is covered with chocolate or chocolate icing and decorated to look like the bark of a tree. Some people like to add extra decorations such as marzipan mushrooms!  While we did not bake 13 different desserts for Christmas Day, we do spend a lot of time baking tons of cookies!

Although in total secrecy, Christians find a way to mark the birth of Christ in countries where Christians are persecuted, such as North Korea, the country that has been ranked as the most oppressive place for believers in the world for 15 straight years by major watchdog groups, such as Open Doors USA.  While many Christians around the world are not free to publically celebrate Christmas, it doesn’t stop them from secretly celebrating the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.  While there are not many Asian or Middle Eastern Christmas traditions to try, our family did spend time praying for persecuted Christians around the world during the Christmas season.  

There are so many more Christmas traditions to explore and participate in.  Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Christmas Around the World by Lankford (biblically based) and Celebrate Christmas Around the World.  (secular).


In December, the one thing we did not skimp on was family read aloud time.  Since we didn’t have official lessons to do, we actually had more time to read great books while sitting around in our PJs.   One of my new favorite picture books is A World of Cookies for Santa:  Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World M. E. Furman. This super fun book takes readers across the globe to see all the treats that await Santa on Christmas Eve. The children head to the Philippines where puto seko cookies and ginger tea are left out for Santa; jet to Russia for a honey-spice cookie then set out for Malawi for a sweet potato cookie! When you finish the book, the journey’s still not over.  Recipes are provided in the book for your family so you can bake some of the cookies mentioned in the story.     

world of cookiesSome of our favorite Christmas chapter books were The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Robinson, A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder and A Christmas Carol by Dickens.  We also spent many hours reading classic picture books such as The Polar Express, The Night Before Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas Each year I always added a picture book that told the true meaning of Christmas.  Some of our favorites are Humphrey’s First Christmas and The Legend of the Poinsettia..


Boy Writing Letter to SantaDuring our December “break”, we had no problem finding writing “assignments” to do.  The kids helped me write and address our Christmas cards.  They wrote Christmas notes to send to friends and then wrote thank you cards for gifts they received.  They created our gift tags and place cards for Christmas Eve brunch.  They copied favorite recipes to include with homemade gifts and favorite Christmas verses to add to cards.  They created shopping lists, “to do” lists, grocery lists, and guestlists.  Today, brush writing and calligraphy are the new craze!  With your older kids, learn how to write your favorite bible verses using colorful markers and brush writing.  They make beautiful gifts and keepsakes.  Don’t feel guilty!  There were always plenty of writing opportunities to do in December.


cookiesDon’t feel guilty about spending time baking either!  After all, there is a fine art to baking which is only made possible by science!  From yeast rising to cookie batter ratios to spices in gingerbread,  science “experiments” with chemical reactions, compounds and mixtures are happening every time you bake another dozen cookies!  Still feeling guilty, don’t forget about all of the measurements, multiplication, and fractions that are being used every time you triple your famous pumpkin bread recipe!


and-the-angel-said-to-them-fear-not-for-behold-i-bring-you-good-news-of-gre-esvOf course, don’t forget to celebrate the reason for the season!  Even if you do not get to play any of these games, read any of these stories, or do any of these activities, make sure you take the time to go caroling, serve your neighbors, and spread the good news of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection this holiday season.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,



img_1221.jpegA FREE GIVE AWAY!  In the spirit of the holidays, we will be giving away Carol Joy Seid’s Homeschool Made Simple DVD and a $25 gift card to Amazon!  For my CA friends, we are also giving away one COMPLIMENTARY registration to our special weekend for homeschooling moms in Pasadena on March 27th & 28th!

To put your name in the drawing, visit our Instagram account (IG):

  1. “Like” today’s “Black Friday Freebie” post and leave a comment.
  2. Tag a friend (or two) in your comment.
  3. Follow us on IG.
  4. Repost in your IG or FB story
  5. Subscribe to our website and “Join our Community” @  

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We will draw the lucky winner tomorrow on Small Business Saturday at our IG account, Coffeewithcarrieconsultant, so don’t put it off!  I will contact the lucky winners by IG DM to get your email and preference for give away delivery.

Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember

give thanks psAs we move closer to Thanksgiving, I wanted to share with you one of our favorite past posts: THANKSGIVING: Joshua’s Memorial Stones.

I am ever so grateful for God’s faithfulness.  As I look back on 2019, I abundantly see God’s fingerprints and handiwork everywhere.  We have so much to be thankful for.  I am looking forward to remembering, sharing and honoring God’s faithfulness in this year’s Thanksgiving “Memorial Stones.”

It is my prayer this past post blesses you.  Please share with your homeschooling friends who may need a word of encouragement this week.

May God richly bless your homeschooling journey for His honor and glory,


Getting Social!

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Coffee with Carrie is now on INSTAGRAM!

You can find us @coffeewithcarrieconsultant. On IG, we post daily words of encouragement, mini devotionals, book recommendations, curriculum ideas, and humorous points to ponder.  We will also continue to post on our website bi-monthly blog articles filled with encouragement, teaching tips, and updates on our special weekend for homeschooling moms.

Join us at IG @coffeewithcarrieconsultant!  Follow us and join the fun every day!


Are You A Runner?

head between kneesAre you a runner?  I must admit I am not, at least not in the literal sense!  I have never enjoyed running as a form of exercise.  However, I am guilty of being a runner.  My first reaction to fear is to run!  When I am faced with confrontation, disappointment, betrayal, bad news, or failure, my gut instinct is to run and hide.  I seek solitude, and I run away from people.

Are you a runner?  In the Book of Jonah (chapters 1-2), God gave Jonah a calling he didn’t want.   Jonah had his reasons.  He didn’t agree with God’s plans.  He didn’t particularly like the reasons for God’s commands.  He didn’t think he was the right man for the job.  But God made Jonah’s calling clear:  Go to Ninevah and tell the people to repent.  Nineveh was 500 miles northeast of where Jonah was at the time.   So what does Jonah do?  He runs!  He runs (well more like sails) to Tarshish which is almost 2000 miles west in Spain.  That is a 2500 mile “gap” between God’s call and Jonah’s heart.  God said, “Go east.” Jonah said, “No way!  I’m going west.”  Jonah was a runner too!

On most days, I love homeschooling!  On most days, learning alongside my family fills my heart with all kinds of wonderful feelings.  I love their “ah ha!” moments, their breakthroughs, or hearing their silly laughter echoing in the halls.  But on some days, I want to run!  It’s hard. It can be painful.  It’s not what I was expecting. It’s hard to get out of bed when I am riddled with pain, when I have one more Dr. appointment to go to, when my family is dealing with a death, or my depression rears its ugly head again.  It’s painful to see my child struggle with school, with his confidence, with his self-image, or with disappointment or heartbreak.  For you, perhaps you are dealing with a broken relationship, taking care of a baby and/or your aging parents, or trying to pay the pile of bills stacked up on your desk.  In all honesty and with complete transparency, some days (or weeks or even months) are not exactly how I was expecting our homeschooling to go. So I run!

The problem with my running is the direction in which I choose to run.  I run away and hide.  Often I’m full of shame at feeling this way or for feeling like a failure.  I run away from friends who I know want to help or who can offer sound advice. I run away from the problem, the confrontation, the disappointment.  Sometimes I feel like Forest Gump who just kept running and running and running.   But it is ok to be a runner!  We just need to run in the right direction and for the right reasons.  Instead of running AWAY from my problems, I need to run TO the arms of my heavenly Father.  It is on these horrible, terrible, no-good very bad days, I need to run (and run as fast as I can) to Jesus and His Word.  I may stumble, I may fall, and I may even have an ugly cry as I hit the floor in yet another face plant, but at least I’m running in the right direction.  I may still need to seek solitude but at least I’m inviting God into the space to hold me, guide me, and cover me.


One of my favorite stories is of 1992 Olympic runner, Derek Redmond, and how he finished his race with the help of his father.  Injured and in pain, Redmond finished the race as his father embraced him and held him up.  Get some kleenex and watch this beautiful moment and  standing ovation Redmond and his father received:

It’s ok to be a runner, but don’t run in the direction of Jonah.  Don’t create a 2500 mile gap between God’s plans and your plans.  On the really bad days, don’t run alone!  On the days you feel like running, think about in what direction you are running.  On the bad days, are you running away from God and His calling for you to be a homeschool mom or are you running towards God knowing that in His perfect timing and in His perfect way, you will finish the race and you will finish it strong.

run enduranceOn those bad days, think about why you are running.  Are you homeschooling to run away from something (bad school policies, toxic educational environments, immoral curriculums, inadequate services, ideological indoctrination, etc) or are you homeschooling so you can run to something better (making God’s Word focal point in learning, feeding curiosity,  building family relationships, investing time in passions and gifts, etc). If your homeschooling decision is based on running away from a school system, then you will always be running in fear.  If your homeschooling decision is based on running to something better, then your days will be filled with purpose.  If your homeschooling decision is based on running to what God has called you to do, then you can run with full confidence that God’s got your back (and He is actually paving the road before you if you will have the courage to see it and follow it!)

jonah 2-2 whale tailAre you a runner?  I am!  It is my prayer that when you and I run, we will run in the right direction.  I pray that on those bad days when we fill like running, hiding and giving up, we will run towards the finish line allowing our heavenly father to lift us up and will gain strength from the support and encouragement we are receiving from our friends and family on the sidelines.  Jonah eventually cried out to God for help and to no surprise, God was there to save him.  Let’s do this!  Let’s run together!

The holiday season is officially upon us, which means we begin to run in different directions.  Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, holiday decorations are already up, and Christmas music is already flooding the airways.  The pace of the holidays never seems to slow down.  This November, run with a grateful heart.  This December, run towards the reason for the season.  Take a break from your official homeschooling schedule to enjoy the holidays, the family visiting from out of town, and the hours of baking and cooking.  Trust me, the math facts, grammar books, and history projects will still be waiting for you in January.  Take time to play some games, drink some hot chocolate, eat some pie, and snuggle on the couch while reading some great books together.

May God richly bless your running for His honor and glory,


homeschool adventure imagePlease join us March 27th & 28th as we will dig deeper into the Book of Jonah!  In our first Saturday morning session, The Jonah Journey:  When God’s Plans Don’t Match Ours  (Book of Jonah Study), Carrie De Francisco will share biblical principles from the Book of Jonah that can be applied to your ministry of motherhood and calling to homeschool.  Like Jonah, are you traveling this homeschooling journey kicking and screaming or are you running in the opposite direction filled with fear, doubts and down-right apprehension?  Has God called you to homeschool or has He called you to homeschool another year?  Don’t run away!  Accept the call!  And come to our special weekend for homeschooling moms!  In our first session, we will learn lessons from Jonah on how to be joyful (and obedient) when God’s homeschooling “itinerary” doesn’t match ours!  We will also jonah accept the calllearn from Jonah how anger, bitterness, unforgiveness and disobedience (even delayed obedience) can turn an adventure and a holy calling into a long, exhausting and even torturous trip.   For more information on our special weekend for homeschooling moms, check out theUpcoming Event” tab.  Early Bird Registration begins Jan. 1st!


Around the World in 80 Books (Part 3)

hello-diffretn-languages.jpgHola!  Bonjour!  Ciao! Nǐn hǎo! Guten Tag!  Good day, Matie!  Welcome back to our travels around the world in 80 books three-part series.  If you haven’t read the first and/or second blog, CLICK HERE (PART 1) and HERE (PART 2).

This month we will finish our travels by traveling to Asia, Africa, and Australia.  Besides eating delicious food and reading great books from around the world, we also spend a lot of time playing games!  Over the years, we have accumulated geography board games and card games as well as unique games that are played in other cultures.  Our “travel around the world” year-long studies can be summed up in four words:  pray, read, eat, and play!  We would learn about other countries and pray for missionaries around the world.  We would read books about people and places around the world and chapter books set in different places around the world.  We would eat new and exciting foods grown and cooked in countries around the world, and we would play games that helped us appreciate God’s amazing world and the people in it.

game ticket to rideI could do a whole blog just on the games our family has played and collected over the years!  Because we have so many favorites, my daughter and I will share many of them at our special weekend for homeschooling moms in March.  One of our Saturday sessions is “Passport to Learning.”  I promise we will bring tons of games from around the world to share with you!  Click here for more info on Saturday’s session:  Passport to Learning

Until then, let’s get our book backpack and finish our travels to Asia, Africa, and Australia!

BOOKS #61-70  ASIA

  1. Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin & Story of Ping by Majorie Flack (China)
  2. Grandfather Tang by Amy Tompert (China)
  3. The Origami Master by Nathaniel Lacheneyer  (Japan)
  4. Bee-Bim Bop  & A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (Korea)
  5. Mountains of Tibet by Mordicai Gerstein (**deals with incarnation beliefs**)
  6. Grandfather’s Dream by Holly Keller (Vietnam)
  7. The Secrets of the Terra Cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine (China)
  8. White Crane:  Samurai Kids #1 by Sandi Fussel (Japan)
  9. Dolls of Hope by Shirley Parenteau (Japan)
  10. White Elephant by Sid Fleischman (Thailand)



  1. Possum Magic by Mem Fox  (Australia)
  2. The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall (Australia)
  3. Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox  & New Zealand’s ABC by Holly Schroeder
  4. Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw (Egypt)
  5. Emmanuel’s Dream:  A True Story by Laurie Ann Thompson (Ghana)
  6. Seeds of Change:  Wangari’s Gift to the World by Jen Cullerton Johnson (Kenya)
  7.  I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Baba Wague Diakite (Mali)
  8. The Storyteller by Evan Turk (Morocco)
  9. Nelson Mandela:  Long Walk to Freedom Picture Book edited by Chris van Wyk (South Africa)
  10. Boy Who Harnassed the Wind:  A True Story by William Kamkwamba (Malawi)



I hope you enjoyed our travel “Around the World in 80 Books” three-part series.  We suggested 80 books we have used over the years to learn about different cultures and places around the world.  However, don’t box yourself into these books.  There are so many picture books, devotionals, and chapter books to choose from.  The idea is to pick books that highlight a country or culture in an authentic way.  I tried to pick books that showed the beauty of God’s world and the diversity of God’s people.  I also tried to find stories of people whose lives are worth emulating and stories of people following God’s Word.  I tried to read books that helped our family see the world the way God sees it and help our children to love God’s people the way He loves them.  I even chose books that highlighted other religions so my children would hopefully grow up to be global-minded, mission-oriented, and kingdom-centered.

If you are overwhelmed, may I offer a word of advice given by Jesus himself?  “Seek first the kingdom of God and all of these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:22)” and But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).  Martha was frazzled and stressed about all she needed to do, but Jesus reminded her the most important place to be is at his feet in his presence.  When we choose to put God first, all the other things will be added in God’s perfect way and in God’s perfect timing.   My motto is “If all you did today with your family was read THE good book and a GOOD book, then you had a great day!”  It is enough and sufficient for that day.  The GOOD book is soul food and a good BOOK is brain food.  Without even trying, your kids will learn a few historical, scientific, and /or artistic concepts along the way.  There will be other days to catch up on math and writing.

May God richly bless your homeschooling adventures for His glory,

Carrie De Francisco

Mark your calendars for March 27-28th.  If you live in the southern California area, we would love for you to join us for our next homeschooling mom event:  Homeschooling Adventures:  A Weekend to Refresh, Rest and Rejuvenate.  It will be a weekend of encouragement, refreshment, and fellowship.  During our Saturday morning session, Passport to Learning, we will share more on the topic of how to travel the world (literally and figuratively) through books, field trips, games and family vacations. Check out our Upcoming Events Tab for details of each session and links to register.


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